IMG_7387(Vsetín, Zlinsky Kraj, Česká republika)–Skype is a great invention don’t you think? When I was a kid and it was Sunday, my dad would always bring home the Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. On the top of this bulky edition was the comics section or as we used to call them “the funny pages.” (I don’t remember laughing much perhaps because my sense of humor was more…complex, sophisticated and advanced when I was little. Now, of course, my sense of humor is juvenile and sophomoric). Anyway, I always read “Dick Tracy” the detective with the square jaw and the two-way wrist radio he always used. (Later it became a two-way wrist video gadget) That must have been the beginnings of the “Skype” we use today. I wanted one of those wrist radios badly but alas it was not to be (I guess one had to have ‘friends’ to connect to). Now, people can use their phones to either Skype or “FaceTime” their friends. It’s all very cool technology and for me living in “central Europe” Skype brings me closer to home and family. Except for those times when I want to chat during the day or night with the whole family and organizing it, I make random calls when I see someone on line. If they answer we chat, if they don’t I’ll try again later. Yesterday it was a random call home after I returned from Zlín because I saw my wife was on-line. It was early on a Saturday morning back home but I took a chance and connected with  her. She was still in bed but was awake. My son had decided to stay the night so I chatted with him as well. It was all good. Her iPad has a front and rear camera so she took me on a tour of the apartment and the sunny porch with the re-planted Christmas tree in a pot. It was all very domestic but it did feel like I was there and not here. Distance had been mashed together. I do get emails from her with the news of the day, but face to face adds depth to the conversation because I can see and read her face and vice-versa. So even though I don’t have a two-way wrist video goodie, this works just fine.

Speaking of working just fine, yesterday Susan and I along with our friend Marcus (from the US) hopped the bus to Zlín for their annual Mardi Gras parade and celebration. I think the theme of this year’s celebration was Mexican…I think. It wasn’t a very big parade. It was composed of crazy Czechs and even crazier American ex-pats all dressed up with sombreros and mustaches and a ten plus member marching band all of whom were “well oiled.” (I suppose in the states we would call this stereo-typing) The length of narrow street that the parade moved down would have had the march done in short order except the participants would stop at random houses, go into the back yard of the house, be fed sandwiches and of course, the ever present slivovice before they moved on to the next house. I was told that this is what the people would do in small villages. Time, in fact, stood still and it was fun to watch. At the end of the street was a tent for music groups and dancing. It was a great morning and afternoon. What struck me most was the laid back atmosphere of no-time commitments. What I mean by that, is that no one was concerned about “getting back” or “we have to go” or whatever. Marcus, who had lived in Zlín for years introduced us to his ex-pat army buddy Scott who in turn introduced us to other people. All of them were in no hurry to actually do anything except be in the moment. It reminded me of our year we spent in Ireland. Same attitude. Nothing was more important or pressing than talking with the person in front of you. I know, this can lead to being late for things, but in the long run, everything works out. By the way, Susan tried the hot mead wine and if her face was any indication, she didn’t like it. I can tell you with my sensitive nose, it smelled divine.

Originally, Susan and I were going to Trenčín in Slovakia to see the 11th century castle, but when the opportunity of going to Zlín presented itself we figured that the castle would still be there in a few weeks if we decide to go. Besides, hanging around at a celebration with music and parades and some dancing was much more appealing and it was a blast. I did wonder about the bus fare back to Vsetín. On the way down to Zlín the fare was 49 kč and on the way back it was 56 kč. Marcus explained that it was because everyone wants to go to Vsetín so that’s why the fare is higher going back. Normally I would take this explanation as fact, but the jury is still out on that one and I still don’t know.

and so it goes…